Utah's Iron and Steel Industries

Index For This Page

This page was last updated on December 20, 2020.

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Iron Ore Mining

Iron Mission -- Information about the early pioneer Iron Mission at Cedar City.

Iron Mountain -- Information about the history of iron ore mining in Utah, and the railroads that served it.

Iron Mountain Railroads -- Information about the railroad operations for the movement of iron ore from the mines at Iron Mountain in Iron County, to a connection with UP at Iron Springs on the Cedar City Branch. The rail line itself is owned by Union Pacific and has been leased for operation to several operators since 2006. First as Utah Southern (2006-2012), then as CML Railroad (2012-2015), then as Black Iron LLC (2015-2020), then as Utah Iron LLC after late 2020.

Utah Iron Ore Corporation -- Information about one of the companies that mined the iron ore near Cedar City; unique because this company operated two Shay locomotives and two very early Vulcan gasoline locomotives.

Early Steel Industry In Utah

Silver Brothers, Steel Makers -- An article from 1912 about the first steel making in Utah.

The following summary of early steel-making in Utah comes from the November 5, 1950 issue of the Salt Lake Tribune:

But during the long period of years leading up to the Ironton blast furnace there were courageous pioneers who established foundries and simple fabricating plants despite the lack of local sources of iron, and later steel, not to mention the attendant economic problems. First was the Silver Iron Works, established in 1874, to become Silver Brothers in 1886.

It was in 1889 that the late Nathan Rosenblatt founded the then modest Eastern Iron and Metal Co. today expanded to the Eimco Corp, and its affiliates, American Foundry and Machine Co., and Structural Steel, managed by Simon and Morris Rosenblatt, sons of the founder.

It fell to this family to bring the first electric steel furnace to the west and only the sixth such furnace in the United States in 1916 when Morris went to Sweden to bring back a Renerfelt three and one-half-ton per melt independent arc electric steel furnace, and the crew to install it.

In 1937 this pioneer furnace gave way to a five-ton, three-phase direct arc furnace, and in 1948 a Moore rapid five-ton unit was added, bringing capacity to 12,000 tons per year.

Chronologically, the next pioneering came in 1895, when Tom Pierpont established the Provo Foundry and Machine Co., at Provo. In 1908 Perry Burnham started fabricating metal culverts at Woods Cross and the Lundin and May Foundry was started tn Salt Lake City in 1911, with the already mentioned American Foundry and Machine plant following in 1912.

In 1914, John Lang started his little shop which, looking back, gave no one a picture of its present day seemingly miraculous growth. Frank M. Allen broke into the steel fabricating business in 1915 and in 1916, J. W. Silver of the pioneering Silver family, established the Ogden Iron Works.

"In 1915, anticipating World War I needs, the Utah Iron Ore and Steel Corporation, later the Utah Steel Corporation, was formed to build a small steel plant in Midvale, Utah, a short distance south of Salt Lake City. By this time the Los Angeles Branch of the Union Pacific Railroad had been completed which made the iron ore in Iron County easily accessible if needed. The steel plant survived solely on Government contracts, so when the war ended, the contracts ended as did the steel plant." ("The Magnet, Iron Ore In Iron County" by Graham D. MacDonald, 1991, page 14)

Morris Rosenblatt brought the first electric steel furnace to the West. "It fell to this family to bring the first electric steel furnace to the West, and only the sixth such furnace in the United States, in 1916 when Morris went to Sweden to bring back a Renerfelt three and one-half-ton per melt independent arc electric steel furnace, and the crew to install it." In 1937 this pioneer furnace gave way to a five-ton, three phase direct arc furnace, and in 1948 a Moore rapid five-ton unit was added, bringing capacity to 12,000 tons per year." (Salt Lake Tribune, November 5, 1950)

Utah Steel Corporation operated its two 75-ton open hearth furnaces at Midvale from 1916 to 1922. The plant was operated by Nathan Rosenblatt and his two sons, Morris and Simon. (Salt Lake Tribune, February 15, 1944)

February 1920
"The Utah Steel Corporation, Salt Lake City, Utah, is planning for extensive additions and improvements in its rolling mill department during the present year. The work will comprise the installation of an oil-heated continuous billet heating furnace to replace two coal-fired furnaces now in service. This furnace will be used for the finishing mills; a new motor-driven finishing mill and electric-operated overhead traveling crane of 5-ton capacity, and new hotbed for the 8-inch mill will be installed." (Blast Furnace and Steel Plant, February 1920, page 175, "News of the Plants")

The Rosenblatts later organized American Foundry company, and Structural Steel and Forge company. An earlier Rosenblatt enterprise was American Foundry and Machine company, which became Eastern Iron and Metal Corporation in 1918, and later Eimco Corporation.

(Read more about Structural Steel and Forge, and EIMCO)

Iron and Steel Manufacturing

U. S. Steel Geneva Works -- Information and locomotive rosters for U. S. Steel's Geneva Works, later operated by the independent Geneva Steel Corporation.

U. S. Steel - Columbia Steel Ironton Works -- Information and locomotive rosters for Columbia Steel's iron works at Ironton.

U. S. Steel Wellington Coal Wash plant -- Information and locomotive roster for U. S. Steel's coal washing plant near Wellington, Utah.

Defense Plant Corporation -- Information about the World War II era government program to expand the production of steel in Utah, including a new coal mine in Carbon County, additional iron ore mining capability in Iron County, and the Geneva steel plant.

Iron and Steel Foundry and Machine Companies -- Information about the foundries and machine shops in Utah, 1850 to 1950, that helped form Utah's industrial base.


The Magnet, Iron Ore In Iron County -- An excellent 75-page history of iron mining in Iron County, Utah; written and self-published in 1991 by Graham D. MacDonald, mining engineer and later General Superintendent of the U. S. Steel iron mining operations. (PDF; 76 pages; 16.3MB)


Iron Mountain Railroads -- A Google Map of the Iron Mountain area, showing the former Union Pacific Iron Mountain Branch.

Pacific States Cast Iron Pipe Co.

May 1926
The site for a future cast iron pipe foundry and plant was inspected by James R. McWane of McWane Cast Iron Pipe Co., and negotiations were started for the formation of the company, and construction of the plant. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 18, 1926)

July 2, 1926
Pacific States Cast Iron Pipe Company was established in Utah on land adjacent to the site of Columbia Steel's Ironton plant. Land for the Pacific States site was purchased from the same Provo-Springville Holding Co. that had acquired a large parcel of property for the location of the iron plant, but which was not actually needed by them. The Pacific States Cast Iron Pipe Company was incorporated in Nevada on July 2, 1926, with L. F. Rains as president, who was also president of Columbia Steel. Construction of the plant had already started. (Salt Lake Tribune, July 3, 1926)

By early August 1926, erection of the steel buildings was started, with October 1st as the target date for completion. Construction was under the direction George E. Sibbetts, chief engineer of Columbia Steel, and manager of Pacific States Cast Iron Pipe Co. Sibbetts was also shown as vice president, treasurer and consulting attorney of the company when it was organized in early July. (Salt Lake Tribune, August 4, 1926; July 3, 1926)

During a late September 1926 visit by J. R. McWane to the Pacific States Cast Iron Pipe plant that was under construction, McWane is shown as being the president of the company, with George Sibbett as general manager and L. F. Rains as a director of the company. The planned completion date had been pushed to November. The first carload of equipment for the plant, made at the McWane plant in Birmingham, Alabama, had been received at the new Pacific States plant "ten days ago." Prior to the decision to open a plant in Utah, carload lots of pig iron and sand had been shipped to Birmingham to test the process. McWane held several patents for the manufacture of cast iron pipe, including the "forecaulked joint and the horizontal process of casting pipe." Before opening his own company, McWane had previously been president of American Cast Iron Pipe Co., also in Birmingham. (Salt Lake Tribune, September 26, 1926)

November 22, 1926
The first production of cast iron pipe took place at Pacific States Cast Iron Pipe Co. on Monday November 22, 1926. The cast iron pipes produced were 4-inch soil or sanitary pipe, five feet in length, using the process patented by J. R. McWane. There were a total of 80 employees at the time. Pacific Cast Iron Pipe used pig iron, foundry coke, and electrical power from the adjacent iron plant of Columbia Steel Corporation. Construction of the plant began on July 10th. Full production commenced in late December, and by early January, a full carload of cast iron sanitary pipe had been delivered to a local Salt Lake City plumbing distributor. The plant was constructed to supply cast iron pipe to the Intermountain and Pacific Coast regions, and several carloads had already been shipped to California. (Salt Lake Tribune, November 23, 1926; January 9, 1927)

December 1926
In a brief review of the iron industry in Utah, it was reported that Pacific States Cast Iron Pipe Co. was a joint operation of McWane Cast Iron Pipe Co., and Columbia Steel Corporation. (Salt Lake Tribune, December 4, 1926)

January 31, 1930
"Provo, Jan. 31 -- The U. S. Steel corporation's interest in the Pacific States Cast Iron Pipe company has been purchased by J. R. McWane, president of the latter company, and his associates. The amount involved was not announced. The Pacific States company was formed in May 1926, by the McWane Cast iron Pipe company and the Columbia Steel corporation. The company's plant is situated at Ironton and has a capacity output of 80 tons of cast iron pipe per day. The U. S. Steel corporation recently acquired the Columbia properties." (Ogden Standard Examiner, January 31, 1930)

As part of its continuing expansion, McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company formed McWane, Inc., as a corporate holding company to better manage and control its growing number of subsidiaries.

January 26, 2015
McWane Cast Iron Pipe Co., Pacific States Cast Iron Pipe Co., Atlantic States Cast Iron Pipe Co., and Clow Water Systems were consolidated under the new name McWane Ductile. (McWane Ductile press release dated January 26, 2015)

(Read the Wikipedia article about McWane)